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SFMTA Announces Third Woman Ever to Serve as Cable Car Grip

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Last week, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees all ground transportation in San Francisco, certified a new operator for its legendary cable car fleet making Amber Jones the third woman ever to join the ranks as a Cable Car grip.  

“Women are making history during Women’s History Month, and I’m proud of Amber Jones who began Cable Car service last week as the third woman ever to be promoted to Cable Car grip,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “Amber is a role model for women in public service and will be an inspiration for other women looking to become Cable Car operators.”

“It is fitting that we are able to certify the third woman ever as a Cable Car grip during Women’s History Month,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “Our Cable Car operators are ambassadors for this city and carry on a legacy that has served this city well. Ms. Jones’ certification is a tremendous accomplishment for herself, this agency and for upcoming women operators who hope to one day follow in her footsteps.”

With her certification as a grip person last week, Jones became only the third woman in the rail line’s 143-year history to helm the iconic symbol of San Francisco transportation.  This marks the first time two women will be a grip on the lines at the same time, as Jones will join Cable Car’s second woman grip, Willa Johnson in service. Fannie Barnes, the first woman to serve as a Cable Car grip, retired in 2002.

Jones has been an operator since 2008. She said: “It's such a fun and exciting opportunity to work in a position where I get to show off such an amazing city I call home.  I’m very proud and honored to be the third woman in history to drive a Cable Car in my hometown. San Francisco is such a diverse city with ample space and opportunity for goals to be reached and records to be broken for any race, gender or age and I'm happy to be a part of its history.”

Conductors are usually based at the rear of the cable car. Grip persons are located in the front of the car and are responsible for operating the various hand and foot controls that propel and stop the 15,500 pound vehicles.

Demanding and unforgiving, gripping a cable car requires extraordinary skills: arm, hand and upper body strength, mental and physical coordination, confidence and determination.

Plan to join the Cable Car operators at the Bell Ringing Contest this year, scheduled for July 7, 2016.